It is no longer enough to protest only in the streets anymore. The Millennials of Africa need to learn how to organise themselves. Look at what our elders are doing: selling our gold and oil; tightening security laws and escalating police brutality while paying the enforcers very little, thereby exacerbating the problem; pretending to be attending to a health care system they’ve neglected for years; clinging to seats of power at their old age; and more painfully, acting as though they know how to solve the issue of gender-based violence and femicide.
For sure, we can protest these things. But we are still asking them to attend to our problems. The Millennials of Africa need to do it for themselves. A select few among us have university degrees. While for most of us, we know what we know from learning on the streets of life. Our tech-savviness has helped along the way with freelance gigs and formal employment. Why don’t we do it for ourselves, even now? Politics is making the world go round. And politics is what the Millennials of Africa have long neglected.
Most of us are fine with the routine of our daily jobs while selectively supporting a social media justice cause online. It is time the leaders of this future appear. Let us take on the responsibility now. We cannot afford to lose more young lives in protests whose results are ambiguous. Is it because we can’t work together? Are the youth of Africa so divided amongst themselves that they cannot achieve anything, just like their elders in the political office right now? How far has the apple fallen from the tree? My hope is that it fell on a riverbank and is streaming along the water, off to a new land to plant a new tree on a rock – a more stable foundation.
Africa will rise with its Millennials. We have the know-how, we have the skills, we have the creativity, with one thing missing – unity. We need to move beyond our social media solidarity and short-term alliances during the adrenaline rush of protests. The youth in Nigeria have taken the #EndSARS movement to a police brutality inquiry. My hope is that they will take it further to a more organized political movement, ahead of the Nigerian national elections in February 2023. Bobi Wine in Uganda and Boniface Mwangi in Kenya are each making their own strides towards the high political office in their respective countries. South Africa has its local government elections in 2021. More young Africans need to get involved.
My suggestion is that we start our focus on rural areas. We need to modernize our villages. We can start a ‘Modernise African Villages’ campaign. And use our creative collaborativeness to solve Africa’s problems. The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is going ahead without our input. For sure, proper road networks and lower import tariffs will benefit African trade. But whose trucks will be transporting whose resources on these new roads? Clearly the poor will continue their wage enslavement while the big corporate companies access new markets. Our villages must be modernised and empowered so that they can use these new road networks to export their locally produced goods.
We can’t continue on like this. Rather than endlessly being gripped in protests, let us start implementing some of our own solutions. The Millennials of Africa need to find a way out of the dark woods of our divisions. And we can start by attending to our responsibilities – umphakathi. I know that whenever Millennials gather, there is always one or two people who want to rule over others. They stifle the spirit of unity and create apathy. We must resist this. And we must try out more egalitarian structures of organising – in other words, more equal and allowing leadership structures – each according to their ability and skills.
We can elect a committee of equals and rotate leadership posts amongst those skilled in bureaucracy while keeping mass control through votes and referendums – an Afrocentric version of what Switzerland is already doing. If we bring our heads together, we can find the solutions. More importantly, we can only create an equal society if there is real equality amongst ourselves. It starts within and shows itself in our actions. We do not need racism, patriarchy, ableism, classism, colourism and imperialism, in the ingredients of our political formation. So far in my view, we have all that we need to change Africa except for unity – One Day!
Nkateko Mabasa is a Johannesburg based writer with an upcoming book to be published in the first quarter of 2021 by Jacana Media. Follow him on Twitter: @NkatekoMabasa_
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Vernac News.